By Rita Plush
If you ever considered a dinner party that comes in a “wagon or a bike basket traveling across the boardwalks,” and a hassle-free social life that centers around entertaining, dip into the just released “Saltaire Summer Cook Book” for a taste of what I’m talking about. Edited by Kathryn Corrigan Woods and Carol Scott Capelletti, the collection is garnered from Fire Island’s Saltaire community, with recipes that have been in families for decades. Meals focus on simple prep and planning, but include directions for baking homemade pizza dough should your inner cook be sufficiently stirred.
Handy-sized and spiral bound for easy opening and lying flat on your kitchen counter, its 106 pages will take up little shelf or counter space when not in use. The cover is sturdy, made of matte card stock it resists water or a bit of splattered cooking oil. I know, because I tried it. Blue pages with white print highlight the various sections, i.e. appetizers, soups, etc., the same blue in service for captions and ingredients. Tracy Dockray Rudd’s attractive illustrations make for a cookbook that is easy on the eye and strong on the appetite. A shared effort, the editors thank the “many Saltairians” for their art and design, cookbook savvy and proofing contributions.
Personal notes about villagers enhance the book’s community spirit giving the reader a sense of being included in the village’s 100-year history. Now, I know that Graham Scott, once a Saltarian, has for years been refining his Eggplant Caponata out in California where he presently lives, and that Sara Kovner’s garden harvest goes a long way. She makes summer stock out of veggie scraps.
There are pros in the assemblage of culinary artistes too. Madeline Lanciani, chef and owner of Tribeca’s Duane Park Patisserie, uses clams fished right out of the Great South Bay for her Linguine with White Clam Sauce. Saltaire has its share of celebrity. Former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro may have made history as the first woman to run for vice president nominated by a major political party, but she’s also famous for her manicotti. Her son and present Saltaire Village Mayor John Zacarro Jr. contributes Geraldine Ferraro’s manicotti, which the Zacarro family continues to serve at holiday galas.
When you’ve had enough of the blanching and braising, parboiling and poaching – or maybe right along with – it’s time for one of the many tempting brews offered by “resident mixologists.” It must be 5 o’clock somewhere – Methinks I’ll pour me Lilly Diller’s Watermelon Cosmos. There’s something about sweet juicy watermelon and the dry tart taste of vodka that talks to this reviewer of the just right combination of winding down and perking up. And if you’re the kind of person who thinks making dinner is making reservations, you’ll still find recipes aplenty that will take little time away from your chill-out on the beach. Suzanne McGowan’s Zoodles with Avocado and Tomatoes anyone?
Then again, how could one not be inspired after reading all these delicious offerings? I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked. Let’s cook!
How about we start with a salad of Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms? Edible flowers, now doesn’t that sound exotic? Carol Scott Cappelletti grows the plants in her Saltaire garden “more for the flowers than the vegetable!” And I can see why. The bright yellow blooms are as luscious to look at as they are to eat. And they’re good for you too. A little Googling reports the blooms contain beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium.
Pair that with some penne with basil and tomatoes, a make-ahead dish Clare Briody says is right up our “quick and easy” alley, and microwaved poached salmon, topped with Florence Mayer’s tasty sauce and you’re onto a menu that’s “perfect for a hot summer day.”
Dessert? Are you kidding? Gotta have dessert. After discovering all the treats here, we may have to serve more than one. May? We will have more than one. For starters let’s hand around Geri Dicostanzo’s mixed berry pie, on the table in “less than 15 minutes,” and who doesn’t love that? Offer that up with six layer bars, Lynn Schlosser Jacobson’s “Best Dessert” prizewinner in the 2016 Saltaire Bay Picnic, a “no fuss, no mess” taste treat you can prep and bake in the pan, and you’ll get rave reviews for your efforts.
Hungry now? Bon appetite!
“Saltaire Summer Cookbook: Recipes from a Small Village” Ed. Kathryn Corrigan Woods and Carol Scott Cappelletti Illustrations: Tracy Dockray Rudd $40 Saltaire Citizens Association Books are presently available by inquiring on the SCA website at saltairecitizens.org using the “contact us” button.